Published: March 16, 2014 at 6:48 AM
Good morning, David. In this case, you have to get past the rhetoric to the truth of the matter. Universal Orlando, for whatever reason (money mostly, I am sure), has made a decision that anyone who visits for less than five days must pay $40 to ride the Hogwarts Express. It is really that simple. You can talk about logistics, crowd control, experience, theme, or whatever other lipstick you want to put on this pig, but the fact remains, a one to four day ticket to Universal Orlando just went up $40 for folks who want to experience a new train ride.
Now from your perspective, and the perspective of many others who are used to paying the up-charge related to park to park touring, this requirement is no big deal. I get that you are not "wound up" and I am not trying in any way to change your touring habits. You do what is best for you. However, for the segment of the population that already viewed Universal Orlando as a mutli day destination with enough experiences in either park to occupy a full day of exploration, this $40 up-charge is a completely unnecessary expense that does NOT fit into their touring habits. As one anonymous poster already noted in this thread, he or she will go ahead and pay the up-charge to ride the train on one visit, and then never again. Is that what Universal wants? If so, their business model is flawed for the long term.
Again, it is your choice to do what you will, but I am extremely unhappy about this decision by Universal, because it is a decision that specifically targets my vacation budget for $200 ($40 X 5 people). And it is a decision I believe Universal did not have to make. Ultimately, a few years from now when the Harry Potter junkies go back to their own wizarding world basements, and back to their LARPing conventions, and defense against the dark arts training, when the crowds have died down sufficiently and the train is mostly empty even on busy days, you will find that Universal will make changes to their policy. And suddenly, the round trip ride on the Hogwarts Express that folks are saying is a logistical nightmare, will become a day to day reality. I am patient and I can wait them out. But I am definitely NOT happy about having to wait.
In the meantime, I will continue to express my disappointment about this horrid (yes, HORRID) decision in every thread in which folks want to speak glowingly about a $40 up-charge attraction.
And don't worry, I have expressed my disappointment directly to Universal as well. Customer feedback is what drives companies like Universal and Disney, and it won't take many folks who feel the same way as I do to get Universal to make a change. That ground swell of support is not coming from folks in this discussion, but there are other fiscally responsible, budget minded people out there like me, and eventually the dam will break.
As for my kids and their general disinterest of Harry Potter, they are not the ones paying for the vacation - I am. And while the HP movies are among my least favorite book-to-movie translations, I found the novels to be extremely entertaining. And as a fan of those novels (and, I confess, an adult who reads kids books, as my kids put it), why wouldn't I want to experience a round trip ride on the Hogwarts Express as part of my Universal visit?
So it is with great misgiving that I take my stance. And while it is unpopular among annual pass holders, flex pass buyers, many of the folks on this site, and Universal groupies, that extra $200 in my pocket will come in real handy when one of my kids asks for a photo with Spider-Man, or another round of dessert sushi at Mythos, or when I am paying the $18 per night self parking fee at the Royal Pacific. $200 may not seem like a lot of dough to people with large disposable incomes, but to me, it is a few days of incidentals that help make a theme park visit a success that fits within my vacation budget. And that success is much more valuable to me than a train ride.
Still, it stinks I have to make this decision. And as a long time fan and defender of Universal Orlando, I am not happy about it, to be sure.
Are we at the 'Nuff Said point of this discussion yet? N B would say we are long past it. And I would tend to agree. Enjoy the day, fellow Theme Park Insiders, I'll catch you in another discussion thread!